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Winter Women

by Christy Hallberg

I am the child of winter women, who buy and sell dreams by the river—my mother and her mother before her, bodies baptized in moonlight, lost in incantation and prayer. They tell stories by the river, spun with scraps of old clothes and loose threads, patterns all their own that shift course on a whim—the loss of a needle, the prickling of a finger, unraveling of a spool. Stories born of earth and sky, fire and water, the living and the dead.

In the winter, the women come and go. Talking of dreams from long ago.

Meet me down by the river, beneath the veil of the pines. Hear the rhythm of the water. Watch the river running dry. My mother and her mother before her, haunted women who auctioned their dreams, then bargained for more: counterfeit visions, chimeras masked in gold. Hear the rhythm. Hear the rhythm. Watch the river running dry.

In the winter, the women come and go. Talking of dreams lost long ago.

Their hair wild like mine, hands empty and wanting, waiting, waiting in the ebb and flow of the river. Submerge me in frigid water, the air sleepy and sheer. Spin tales born of currents that weave designs all their own. Dream of gossamer and lace, witch hazel and holly.

How perfectly we collide, alive with silence and subtext, depleted and dry.

In the winter, we come and go. Quiet like Michelangelo.


Christy Alexander Hallberg is a native of Greenville, NC. She is a Teaching Associate Professor of English at East Carolina University, where she earned her BS and MA in English. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. In addition to her teaching duties, she is Senior Associate Editor of North Carolina Literary Review. She has published short stories and creative nonfiction in such journals as Main Street Rag, Fiction Southeast, Riggwelter, Eclectica, Litro Magazine, STORGY Magazine and Concho River Review.

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